Photo by Joey Flispart

February 13, 2013

Nerves Junior: The Sequel

Local buzz band realigns, returns for another shot

Nerves Junior’s 2011 debut album, As Bright As Your Night Light, hit a sweet spot with bloggers, bookers and fans around the country, earning the young Louisville band a spot at New York’s CMJ festival. But problems inside the band were starting to tear them apart, and within a year, half the band was gone.

Then-drummer Zack O’Renick says, “We weren’t making the best decisions” after the first album was finished, when the band was still getting to know each other, “and (since-departed members Stuart Phelps and Cory Wayne) weren’t able to start making better decisions … The decisions (guitarist) Chris (Snow) and I made allowed us to continue playing music, and to be reliable to each other.”

“Whatever specific thing you’re doing outside of the band doesn’t matter,” Snow says, “as long as you’re focused on band stuff. And the focus went away — not showing up for band practice, not calling your friends to tell them you won’t be at band practice …”

In 2012, O’Renick and Snow faced some tough choices: whether to keep the band going, keep the same name or start over, and whether they could find new members who might share their passion. It was a lot to consider, especially as Nerves Junior was already booked for some festival dates, which were coming up soon.

Now in early 2013, Nerves Junior has “reorganized,” as they call it, with new members Brey McCoy (drums) and Brennon Staples (bass), both friends of O’Renick’s since high school. They have a new three-song EP, Craters. The songs came from a period the founding pair spent writing in the month leading up to their date at the Forecastle Festival last July. They worked on the songs all night, every day, after work, to have enough new material for a half-hour set.

“We wanted to record with (engineer) Kevin (Ratterman) again,” Snow says, “but we didn’t have a huge budget like we did for the first record.”

“We didn’t really want a huge budget,” interjects O’Renick, who has moved from drums to vocals.

“Yeah, that’s more money that’s on your shoulders in the first place,” Snow continues. Because it had been a while since the band had released any new music, and they were still adjusting to writing with the new members, they decided to release a smaller EP to put their name back out there, something focused and efficient.

O’Renick says, “(The songs were) three things that were fairly relevant to us, and we just took a swing at it. They’re all about the idea of overcoming something, being in a moment of realization where you do overcome something — super-relevant to us in the last year.”

Now they’re gearing up to play at the huge SXSW festival in Austin for the first time, where they won’t have to worry about past associations.

“We’ve always been into the darker side of things (musically),” says Snow, but reflecting on the newfound momentum “just seemed appropriate at the time.” If they had worked on the same songs three months earlier, they would have come out sounding more downtrodden. But now, “It seemed what was natural was a dark melody, but with just a little twinge of ‘It’s gonna be all right.’”

Nerves Junior
with Jalin Roze, Introvert and Montego
Friday, Feb. 15
Zanzabar
2100 S. Preston St.
zanzabarlouisville.ticketfly.com
$8; 9 p.m.